Visual Training Gave These Baseball Players Better Vision Than 20/20

By: Tia Ghose
Published: May 14, 2015 09:57am ET on LiveScience.

SAN FRANCISCO — Baseball players who participated in a visual training program achieved ultrasharp vision well above “perfect” 20/20 vision, new research suggests.

Baseball players typically have sharp eyes to start, but by spending a total of 12 hours training their eyes to spot contrast, they can improve that vision to about 20/7.5, said Aaron Seitz, who runs the Brain Games Center for Mental Fitness and Wellbeing at the University of California, Riverside. That would mean they could clearly see something at 20 feet away (6.1 meters) that mere mortals could only make out from a distance of 7.5 feet (2.3 m).

The players also reported better peripheral and low-light vision, Seitz said. [Optical Illusions: A Gallery of Visual Tricks]

Even when catching balls flying through the air at lightning speed, “some said they could see the stitching on the ball and the direction of spin,” Seitz said here at the NeuroGaming conference last week (May 6).

Vision training

Though 20/20 is sometimes called “perfect” vision, people can actually do much better than that. Baseball players tend to have extraordinary vision — in fact, one of the greatest baseball players in history, Babe Ruth, was thought to have 20/8 vision, Seitz said. That type of super sight plays an important role in helping players figure out where the ball is going, and can provide a critical edge in high-level gameplay, Seitz said.

To see if brain training could improve not only vision but also playing ability, Seitz and his colleague Jenni Deveau, director of research at the Brain Game Center, subjected 17 of the UC Riverside Highlanders baseball players to daily 25-minute sessions over the course of a month. As a control, the pitchers on the team did visual assessment —> Read More